It’s clear that many of the players on Oliver Queen’s list wont be interesting characters in themselves. As previously mentioned, it’s just a means to tell standalone stories from which to weave the ongoing emotional and mythology elements. Being a serial purist, I’d prefer a more serialized footing, but at the same time it’s important to acknowledge an effective standalone-procedural set up when one comes along.
Which is to say that “Lone Gunman” was another satisfying shot of Arrow, even though it had its problems. The name-of-the-week set up (as efficiently as it supports the larger framework) was as bland as last week’s: another random target on the list of names who a slightly hypocritical Ollie targets — though this formula was changed-up slightly courtesy of Deadshot saving James Holder and the rest of the world from another tiresome Ollielogue.
On a similar note, Ollie’s narration has become too hand-holdy for my taste and I’m not sure how necessary it is (particularly in the long run), while three episodes in and Thea is becoming increasingly ‘THERE’. Laurel gained a few points but until she becomes Black Canary, which I appreciate needs to be a process, she may struggle to do much outside of the predictable romantic triangle that’s already in full swing.
What enabled me to look beyond the less appealing aspects was the interesting take on DC villain Deadshot, the continued emergence of Diggle as a character and, of course, the show’s X-factor: the mythology backstory (though more importantly, the manner in which it’s used to impact the present day storyline).
As for the title – “Lone Gunmen”. Great description for the episode. It fits Deadshot and Arrow’s solitary conditions, while factoring in the big reveal at the end and how this might play into Ollie’s future fight.
Deadshot as a character was far more appealing and convincing to me than China White and her wig. When I first saw the Deadshot photos, I was on the fence somewhat. But in the ‘flesh’ he looked realistic while paying homage to the DC comics character.
While he was silent for most of the episode, something that made his talking part more significant, Michael Rowe delivered with his presentation of the character, while the visuals during the apartment shootout scene were striking — the kind of look the show should strive for in future.
I was briefly compelled by the parallel between Arrow and Deadshot, as mentioned, both lone gunmen but striving for different things, different ideals. The question of whether Deadshot is what Ollie could become if he’s not careful, or perhaps whether he’s already more like Deadshot than he realizes, was an interesting element to chew on.
Unfortunately, Deadshot’s brief arc didn’t allow the episode to expound on these intriguing ideas. This wasn’t helped by the fact that other less interesting souls soaked up the screen-time like it was hot. Yes, Thea, I’m talking to you.
Which isn’t to say that Thea isn’t a useful character, she’s obviously a mini-me to give Ollie a haunting reflection of himself. While I thought she made a good point when telling Ollie that he’s not her father. But she has a lot of ground to make up in the interesting to watch stakes, and I could do without the whiny attitude.
I was also disappointed that the writers decided to kill Deadshot off so soon. If they wanted to raise the stakes, I mentioned one candidate above (though of course they wouldn’t). Not that I don’t see the point in making Deadshot a one shot, but after building him up to be a somewhat fearsome character, Arrow took him out very easily — even to his own surprise.
And maybe this is a marker to say that “yes, Deadshot is tough but he’s nothing compared to Ollie or the upcoming rogues from the DC gallery,” but until that’s backed up by actual evidence then his death feels somewhat hollow — even though I did enjoy his contribution and appreciate that it serviced the bigger issue involving everyone’s favorite bodyguard.
John Diggle is fast becoming my favorite character on the show. His dynamic with Ollie is on point and they seem to share a similar outlook on things even if Ollie hasn’t (before now) been able to show him his real face. Diggle is perceptive and seems to have a higher purpose in mind even though he’s haunted by certain events in his life.
This is a good template from which to work and the reveal at the end of the episode with Ollie saving Dig’s life and then allowing him to see his secret identity, should progress their relationship a lot sooner than I had anticipated.
I have to say, it feels like a good move and further puts Arrow among a clutch of serialized shows that are really moving up their narratives and avoiding the long tease where necessary. This kind of narrative progression wont work for all shows or all storylines, but it can be an effective tool where there’s plenty of interesting story to tell. I’d be inclined to say Arrow, on the evidence thus far, has plenty of interesting story to tell.
And it makes sense — how long could they have mined from Diggle kinda suspecting that there’s more to Ollie, without undermining his obvious intelligence, or getting to the stage when we’re actually watching Diggle watching Ollie tinkle? Though that might have carried some lol-ment.
So I’m all for faster story progression where it works. I’m looking forward to Dig’s reaction and seeing how they work together from here. They’re both lone gunmen, so to speak, now they can share the load. Not that I expect it to be plain sailing.
My favorite parts of the episode, aside from Diggle and Ollie, were the glimpses into the Island past. The mysterious hooded figure gave us (and Ollie) plenty to chew on. He shot Ollie to protect him from whatever “dangerous” forces lurk on the Island — which seems to have some kind of military or scientific element to it.
It’s easy enough to see that this hooded guy inspired Ollie to become something more than he was and gave him the tools to begin carrying out his father’s dying wish. While the handheld camera dips back into the past can be jarring, the flashbacks really add another layer to the storytelling and the show seems to know how and when to use them.
Overall, this is another solid episode that moved things forward. Probably the biggest complement to pay the show is that it has been pretty consistent since the pilot. Last Resort and Revolution might be more splashy and compelling, but Arrow shoots straight and hard.
QUICK FIRE ROUNDS
- Ollie to Mama Queen: [I could have done with] less space and more parenting”. Ouch! He’s not one to let sleeping dog’s lie, but it makes him more human, bless him.
- Ollie just proved that Jack Shephard DIDN’T need Kate to stitch up his wound. I guess Ollie’s more of a man than Jack will ever be. Or maybe Jack’s just crafty like that?
- So, there’s an Observer on Arrow. My Arrow/Fringe crossover dreams are coming into fruition.
- Nice introduction of Felicity Smoak — Ollie’s tech gal with a killer sense of humor. I’m going to like her, I think.
- Kick, kick, boom! Laurel just got (kinda) interesting. I can see her in the Black Canary stockings already.
- Dig’s haunted by his brother death — apparently the human shield line of work got him killed.
- To Thea’s credit, she also had another nice moment with Mama Queen, where we got to explore the broken connections and “bad habits” that have set them apart. A simple scene that worked well.
- Not sure how Ollie got changed into his Arrow gear so fast. I’d better get used to that.
- RIP Deadshot. Killed by an arrow through the eye. In fairness, he kinda asked for that. Let’s hope none of the upcoming villains wear shiny pants – could get messy.
8/10 Seriable Stars